Modeling halotropism: A key role for root tip architecture and reflux loop remodeling in redistributing auxin

Thea van den Berg, Ruud A. Korver, Christa Testerink, Kirsten H.W.J. ten Tusscher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


A key characteristic of plant development is its plasticity in response to various and dynamically changing environmental conditions. Tropisms contribute to this flexibility by allowing plant organs to grow from or towards environmental cues. Halotropism is a recently described tropism in which plant roots bend away from salt. During halotropism, as in most other tropisms, directional growth is generated through an asymmetric auxin distribution that generates differences in growth rate and hence induces bending. Here, we develop a detailed model of auxin transport in the Arabidopsis root tip and combine this with experiments to investigate the processes generating auxin asymmetry during halotropism. Our model points to the key role of root tip architecture in allowing the decrease in PIN2 at the salt-exposed side of the root to result in a re-routing of auxin to the opposite side. In addition, our model demonstrates how feedback of auxin on the auxin transporter AUX1 amplifies this auxin asymmetry, while a salt-induced transient increase in PIN1 levels increases the speed at which this occurs. Using AUX1-GFP imaging and pin1 mutants, we experimentally confirmed these model predictions, thus expanding our knowledge of the cellular basis of halotropism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3350-3362
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Auxin transport
  • Computer simulation
  • Modeling
  • Plant development
  • Root tropism


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